By Neve Murphy and Tatum McElhattan, Staff Writers
// Leadership’s diversity board collaborated with the Latinos Unidos Club to host celebrations of Hispanic culture for students during Latine Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson established Latine Heritage Week to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people of Latin descent in the United States; in 188, it was transformed into a month-long celebration, and since then, it has been celebrated across the United States, and in the community of Lafayette.
“The significance of Latin Heritage Month is the ability to bring awareness to the Latin culture, the entire community, and our student population, but it is also a national movement to recognize the largest ethnic growing group in the United States,” Spanish teacher Elizabeth Holland said.
Latine Heritage Month is essential to the Acalanes community because it spreads awareness of and honors the culture of the many Acalanes students of Latin descent.
“I think school is a great place for people to be able to show their uniqueness. We have several different ethnic groups in our school, and I believe Spanish is number one, Russian is number two, and Korean in number three, and there are many more so whenever there is an opportunity to showcase these separate ethnic groups it is a way to show acceptance and tolerance and appreciation and a great way to be proud of your heritage,” Holland said.
Celebrating Latine Heritage Month also helps teach students about cultures other than their own.
“I think it is super important that students participate because we are in a relatively white community, and this is a great opportunity to learn and support those around you. The events are also super fun and easy to attend,” Latinos Unidos President and senior Zoya Acuna said.
Leadership students spread awareness throughout the month by decorating doors on campus with Latine-related themes and highlighting a different significant person of Latin descent on the Canvas Dashboard each day.
Additionally, Leadership collaborated with Latinos Unidos to hold numerous events to spread awareness and appreciation for Latine people in the community.
“We hosted a [Latine] kickoff event where we handed out [Latine] related food in the Frosh quad to let everyone know that the month was starting,” Head of Leadership’s Diversity Committee and senior Monty Gumabay said.
The next event was a potluck that Acalanes and Campolindo’s Leadership classes organized. Students signed up to bring traditional food from Latine countries to the Acalanes gym before the volleyball game on Sept. 20 against Campolindo.
“We worked with volleyball to make sure we could do it before the Acalanes Campo game. We invited Campo leadership to be a part of it, which was awesome. Students got here early that night and any student could get in free to the volleyball game… and we had sign ups for food,” Leadership and Ethnic Studies teacher Katherine Walton said.
The potluck allowed large numbers of Acalanes and Campolindo students and parents to experience aspects of Latine culture.
“It was lovely. It was the perfect time [because] sports practices were ending [and] the volleyball game was starting, so there was a lot of cross traffic. I definitely heard a few students say, ‘What is that? I’ve never had that before so I was like, oh my gosh, this is exactly why we are doing this,” Walton said.
The next event was a Lotería game co-sponsored by the Latinos Unidos Club and Leadership’s diversity board. The event was held in club advisor Jada Panigua’s classroom.
“We hosted the Loteria event on October 4th. Diversity supported us by bringing quesadillas and Jarritos which is a Mexican soda…Lotería is like bingo, and it is all in Spanish, so attendees got a bit of exposure to the language,” Acuna said.
On the night of Oct. 17, Leadership invited Dr. Alberto Ledesma, Assistant Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity at UC Berkeley, to speak in the Acalanes Library.
“[Ledesma] gave a talk about his personal experience of being a formally undocumented immigrant. It was super interesting, super animated. People said that they liked that. We had people from Campo come and Miramonte as well. As well as a bunch of parents that enjoyed it,” Gumabay said.
Latinos Unidos hosted their last event for Latine Heritage Month on Oct. 18 in which attendees made Ofrendas, altars created to honor deceased loved ones, especially common in Mexico for Day of the Dead celebrations.
“I am looking forward to our event on [Oct. 18] because an Ofrenda is super meaningful, and I look forward to teaching people about what we put on the table, and the individual meanings, such as marigolds or a Cempasúchil,” Acuna said.
Although unrelated to Latine Heritage Month, Indigenous Peoples’ Day fell on Oct. 9 this year, and Leadership held an event to commemorate it. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a national holiday that was established as a way to honor the achievements of Indigenous Americans.
“[Leadership] had an Indigenous Peoples’ Day breakfast that was in the front quad on a Friday morning, and we had information about Indigenous People’s Day and what that is. We gave out food that we researched that indigenous people ate,” Gumabay said.
Overall, both the Leadership teams and Latinos Unidos were happy with their representation and celebration of Latine Heritage Month and were glad they could spread some degree of awareness among the Acalanes community.
“I think [Latine Heritage Month] is a great time to celebrate the history and contributions of Latinos in the world. It is also a great opportunity to stay informed and learn how you can contribute and support your classmates,” Acuna said.